If you thought Thursday’s overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was painful, just wait! We have a doozy for you in this one.
The Kraken had a two-goal lead against the Florida Panthers in the second period Saturday and seemed to be in complete control after Eeli Tolvanen scored his first goal of the year. But 1:19 after Tolvanen’s goal, Gustav Forsling got the Panthers on the board with a power-play goal, and just 11 seconds after that, the game was tied.
Florida’s game winner in the third was downright miserable for Kraken fans. We’ll talk about that in a bit.
Here are our Three Takeaways from the Kraken’s 3-2 loss to the Florida Meow Meows.
Takeaway #1: Awful way to lose
You never want to see a game decided on a lucky or unlucky bounce. Well… actually, maybe lucky bounces are ok when they happen in your team’s favor. But you definitely never want an unlucky bounce to cost you valuable standings points, and that’s exactly what happened Saturday.
With the game tied 2-2 with under seven minutes left to play, Josh Mahura dumped a puck into Seattle’s zone, an innocuous-looking play. Joey Daccord drifted behind the net to field it, as goalies normally do, but the puck never got to him. Instead, it hit a stanchion and took a hard right turn, meeting Nick Cousins at the top of the goal crease for perhaps the easiest goal he has ever scored.
Daccord fell on the sword after the game. “That one’s on me. I just should have stayed in the net. Late in the game, tie game, the stanchions here are pretty bouncy, and they stick out a lot. Just an unfortunate bounce.”
But coach Dave Hakstol defended his netminder. “He plays the puck really well,” Hakstol said. “The dangerous ones up in the glass, you can get a bad bounce like we got there, unfortunately. So, no, that’s a bad bounce at a tough time for us. That’s all.”
We would agree with Hakstol. Going after pucks off the glass is a little riskier than ones around the boards, but 95 percent of those behave the way they’re supposed to. Daccord was not doing anything out of the ordinary by going back to stop that one.
For as unlucky as the bounce was on the winning goal, the Kraken had some equally lucky breaks to keep the game 2-2 in the second period. Ryan Lomberg had a wide-open net on a rebound chance but rang it off the post, and Sam Reinhart scored with 10 seconds left in the period, before a successful offside challenge from Hakstol negated the goal.
Still, that’s a tough way to lose a hockey game.
Takeaway #2: Kraken put themselves in that position
Having said all that, Seattle had this game in its grasp and let the momentum swing wildly in Florida’s favor in the second half of the second period. Things were going swimmingly, and after the first period and first few minutes of the second (especially after Tolvanen pushed it to 2-0), we thought Seattle was marching toward its best all-around performance of the season.
And then—suddenly—it was a brand new, tie game, putting the Kraken in a situation where one bad bounce could sink them.
The first goal against came on Florida’s only power play of the entire game, a blast through traffic by Gustav Forsling that eluded Daccord. Then, just a couple blinks later, Matty Beniers lost a defensive-zone face-off and tried to block Dmitry Kulikov’s point shot, but it bounced off him and then Matthew Tkachuk before floating past Daccord.
This game was a classic example of Seattle needing to play the full 60 minutes to win. We heard the team and its coach talk about this ad nauseam after losses in 2022-23, and this is a prime example of what happens when the tentacle comes off the gas.
Letting down even for a few minutes can cost you games in the NHL, and the Kraken learned that lesson for the umpteenth time Saturday.
Takeaway #3: Joey Daccord got the nod again
It was interesting to see Daccord get the nod again in this game, his third consecutive start and fourth in five games. He was coming off an overtime loss to the Hurricanes, but he set a franchise record in that game with 42 saves.
Clearly, Hakstol has confidence in him right now and is trying to ride the hot hand, and he surely recognized that Seattle has racked up all its standings points on nights when Daccord has been in net.
“Both our guys are playing well,” Hakstol said. “[Daccord] has had a little bit of momentum here and that’s why we went back with him tonight, and he gave us every opportunity to win the game.”
It’s akin to when Philipp Grubauer went out with an injury last season, Martin Jones came in, and suddenly the Kraken got red hot. We’re not saying the lack of points on Grubauer nights has been because of Grubauer (he’s had some very good performances this season), but going back to Daccord Saturday is clearly a Which goalie gives my team the best chance to win? type of decision by Hakstol.
We’ve generally liked Daccord’s game this season. The way he gloves down almost every unscreened shot is very promising, and he is looking more and more like a true NHL goalie, rather than an AHL goalie filling in. He made 35 saves again Saturday and holds a .912 save percentage and 2.88 goals-against average in five starts.
We would guess Hakstol turns back to Grubauer for Monday’s road trip finale in Tampa Bay, but it will be worth monitoring how the goalie usage plays out moving forward.